1. Catch your kids doing good.(Canadian Pediatric Society, 2004; Byrne Biancardi, 2014) We all respond well to positive reinforcement. In the workplace you would probably have a hard time wanting to learn from a supervisor who was always scolding you about what you’re doing wrong and never encouraged you in the ways you were doing your job well. With your children, pay attention not only when things are not going well, but when they are. Be specific with what you observe.
2. Model how you would like your children to behave.The old saying “do as I say, not as I do” is never effective. Your kids are watching you and learning from you, perhaps more than you’d like!
3. Connect with your child.This simply means to empathize with and validate your child’s experience (i.e., “I see that you are very upset/angry/frustrated right now”). Connection helps to move your child’s brain from a “reactive” emotion-driven state to a more receptive state in which they are ready to learn. It can also help to shift your brain from a reactive state to a state where you are able to teach. Connection has the longer-term impacts of deepening your relationship with your children as well as helping to develop the connections in their brains between the lower, more primitive and reactive, parts of the brain to the higher parts of the brain capable of self-regulation (Siegel and Payne, 2014).
4. Address the behavior together.Once you have connected with your child, talk with them about the impact of his or her behavior and ask him or her what they would like to do to make it better. Involve them in the process of being accountable for their actions. For example, if your daughter had broken one of her brother’s toys, she might suggest giving one of her toys to him.
5. Remind your child of your love for them.At the end of the day, it is important to reinforce for your child, “Even at your absolute worst, I am still with you and still love you.” Just like you would like to be thought of as more than just the sum totalof your good or bad actions, so would your child. We can inadvertently send the message to our children that they are only loveable when they are behaving well as opposed to being loveable just for who they are. We hope this series has been helpful for you as you do the hard, but rewarding, task of parenting your children well.
Resources:Canadian Pediatric Society. Effective Discipline for Children. Pediatric Child Health. 2004 Jan; 9(1): 37–41. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2719514/
Siegel, D. J., & Bryson, T. P. (2014). No-drama discipline: The whole-brain way to calm the chaos and nurture your child’s developing mind (First edition.). New York: Bantam.Byrne-Biancardi, S. (2014). 6 Secrets of Highly Effective Discipline from a Seasoned Teacher. https://afineparent.com/be-positive/effective-discipline.html Contributed by Tamara Tatum, LMFT-Associate Supervised by Amy Fuller, PhD, LMFT-S